The Phoenix Suns will honour healthcare workers as they welcome fans for the first time during the 2020-21 season on Sunday, while fellow NBA team the Utah Jazz more than doubled its attendance for yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) win over the Detroit Pistons.

Suns fans have been missing from the Phoenix Suns Arena since last season’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 8, but will return for this weekend’s encounter with the Boston Celtics. For this game, the Suns are offering complimentary tickets to healthcare workers and their families in two-person or four-person, socially-distanced seating pods.

“As the true MVPs of our community, we want to honour and thank our healthcare heroes for all they have done during these challenging times,” said Phoenix Suns president and CEO, Jason Rowley.

“With an exciting new era beginning on the court and a practically new building to play in, we’re thrilled to welcome fans back to Phoenix Suns Arena. Our staff has worked tirelessly with the NBA and health officials to ensure proper protocols are in place to keep everyone safe.” 

Ticket presales for PayPal Sixthman Season Ticket Members will begin today (Wednesday) for scheduled games beginning February 8 (Cleveland Cavaliers), through the first half of the season scheduled to end on March 4 (Golden State Warriors). Single-game tickets for the same games for non-members will go on sale tomorrow.

The Suns said they plan to host up to 1,500 ticketed fans on February 8. In addition, suites will be available for purchase at 25% capacity for each ticketed game after February 7. This limited accommodation is in accordance with guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control, the NBA and Arizona Department of Health Services, and the undertaking includes numerous steps taken by the Suns working with medical experts.

Phoenix Suns Arena is now a GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) STAR™ accredited facility. Among the procedures set out for fan attendance, prior to attending any game, all guests at Phoenix Suns Arena will be required to submit a ‘Fan Promise’ – an online, standardised health questionnaire about COVID-19 symptoms and exposure. The Fan Promise will be accessible via the Official Suns App and must be completed by every fan, employee and vendor entering the venue.

Those returning will be able to sample an array of improvements made to the venue. In December, the Suns unveiled new hospitality offerings as part of their ongoing arena renovation project. Daktronics has also been engaged in a venue-wide LED makeover.

The new-look Phoenix Suns Arena includes the Valley’s largest sports bar, surrounded by more than 7,000 square feet of high resolution LED walls in the reimagined arena pavilion; as well as new concourse concessions – the 602 Grill and the 480 Grill. The main team shop has doubled in size.

Once seated, fans will enjoy an enhanced gameday experience headlined by a new centre hung scoreboard that is six times larger and clearer than its predecessor, two new LED ribbon boards that ring the lower and upper bowls, an upgraded sound system and Musco lighting that provides the court with main stage theatre illumination. Lastly, every fan will be welcomed to a new, cushioned seat, as every seat was replaced during the arena transformation.

Meanwhile, the Jazz’s 117-105 win over the Pistons played out to a sell-out crowd of 3,902 at Vivint Arena after it announced capacity would be increased earlier this week. In November, the Jazz announced that home games at Vivint Arena would initially be played with a limited number of fans when the new NBA season commenced.

Amid a series of enhanced health and safety measures implemented throughout the building during COVID-19 in consultation with the Utah Department of Health, the Jazz said the arena would reopen with a reduced seating capacity of 1,500 in the lower bowl only and limited seating on the suite level.

This has now been boosted to 3,902 with the opening up of the arena’s upper bowl. The Jazz were one of just three NBA teams that started the season with fan attendance. This figure is set to rise to 10 with the Suns’ announcement.

Images: Christy Radecic